Thursday, July 23, 2015

I am GLAD I interned at GLADney

I’m going to start with a cheesy story, because those are always fun! I wholeheartedly believe God chose Gladney for me, though I had NO previous experience with adoption! Being on the brink of finishing graduate school, 27 years old, living life freely with no husband or children, I obviously made a 5-year plan for myself and it was going to happen. No one would tell me any differently, and if anybody got in my way, I’d step on them, not literally, because that’s frowned upon in today’s society.

My plan was to intern with Cook Children’s Medical Center as a medical social worker. I was going to be the most awesome intern ever; so awesome that they offered me a job upon graduation (in August), and I was going to be a medical social worker and be HAPPY with life. Well, that plan didn’t last long and life punched me in the face and said, NOPE! Then Gladney happened. I was devastated. And when I say devastated, I mean I called one of my good friends, who is also in the UTA SSW program, and I cried. I cried because I assumed I wasn’t good enough for Cooks and Gladney was not what I wanted. I had this idea that because Gladney was an adoption agency, that it would be boring, full of me making copies, faxing stuff, and filing paperwork, no fun at all. Little did I know, this was all in God’s plan for me.

I met Mary and my future supervisor, Rachel. I was assigned to Domestic Adoption working with adoptive parents. I thought, “Just great, that’s even more boring, right? I don’t even get to hold babies or anything, just the legal stuff with these guys. Seriously God, do you not even know me at all?!?”

On my very first day at Gladney, I took a deep breath, sucked it up, and took a big dive into the adoption world. My supervisor, Rachel, said, “I hope you’re ready, we have a big day ahead of us!” In my mind, I was like, “Yeah right lady, let’s get this day over with!” First, there was legal meeting. If you’ve never been in legal meeting, talk about INTENSE!!! I never imagined the diversity among birth parents and adoptive parents. I was then introduced to the fact that no family at Gladney fits a cookie cutter standard; you won’t find one, trust me! After legal meeting was Case Review, which I will admit was scary. The caseworkers knew all of their families like they had been friends for years. In two hours, Gladney went from boring to overwhelming. After case review, Rachel and I zipped down I-20 to Dallas for a post placement visit. I was schooled in the car on how I wouldn’t just be shadowing, I was there to help out. I said okay, and was yet a little nervous. I walked in the family’s home and saw (brace yourself), the cutest baby ever! And I didn’t only get to look at her, they let me hold her. That visit was awesome! (If you can’t tell, I adore babies)

The next few months were filled with information about Gladney, adoption, foster care, all of the information you can get on making “forever families.” My attitudes and ideas about Gladney and adoption were changed very quickly and I fell in absolute love with this agency and everything I do. I currently have a number of families I visit after they have had placement. I travel, A LOT! Luckily, I don’t have children, because I’m never at home for long and hardly ever in the office; my dog does miss me though!

My time at Gladney has been filled with placements, orientation, traveling, home studies, ADOPTION DAY, Pathways training, post supervisory visits, joy, and laughter. Last week, I had the opportunity to go to Austin for the 4th or 5th time this semester.  I don’t say that lightly. It’s a big responsibility driving a Gladney car all the way to Austin and being responsible for meeting with families while I’m there. The highlight of my trip was actually tripping at a family’s home. I didn’t completely fall, but it was hilariously embarrassing. It completely broke the ice, and I think they may have felt bad for me after a while. I made my second trip to the Secretary of State’s office for Official Gladney Business (I’m official, WHOOP WHOOP), I spent a little time wondering where Matthew McConaughey’s mansion is, even spent some time at the State Capital.

Out of all of my experiences at Gladney, I can’t say that I’d trade one for anything, even when I’ve made copies. The most rewarding part of being here at Gladney is the end result for these families; we have found children forever families. It is amazing the work that Gladney does. And I know God is smiling at Gladney and Edna Gladney is very proud of every single one of us. I have become very close to my supervisor who is now a close friend, I’ve gained a few fellow intern friends as well. Now that I am graduating (soon), I hope that this is not where my journey ends with Gladney. Who knows, in a year or so, I may be back behind a desk, or out visiting families in the Gladney car. Until then my friends, I am GLAD I interned at GLADney.

Alicia, Domestic Adoption Intern

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

" did you hear about Gladney?"

The title of this post is the perfect example of the question I was most commonly asked during my time at Gladney this summer. I consider it a blessing to have been the international intern for the past eight weeks, and I can hardly believe my time at Gladney has come to an end. Since today is my last day in the office it seemed like the perfect time to write a blog about my time here!

I go to college in South Dakota so the question of how I came to Gladney is a legitimate one. My connection to Gladney starts with the same person who first shared my passion for adoption with me, my Aunt Darla. I really became interested in adoption when I was in 8th grade. Honestly, I am not sure what sparked the interest, but I knew from that point on I wanted to adopt children when I was older. My Aunt Darla and her husband adopted their daughter from China my junior year of high school, and I spent the majority of that summer living with their family and helping them the best I could as they transitioned from being a family of five to a family of six! This experience only made my love for adoption grow. Fast forward a few years and my aunt and uncle began the adoption process again...this time using Gladney! While I heard about Gladney during their adoption process, I heard a lot more about Gladney because of my aunt's involvement in the Superkids program. She has gone to China the past few years as the pediatrician for the Superkids team, and this gave me a small glimpse into all that Gladney does. 

This fall my aunt mentioned to me that she thought Gladney offered internships. I immediately looked into the possibility, and when I saw the option of an internship in the international department I sent in my application. I am extremely interested in international adoption, and I knew an internship that focused on this aspect of adoption would be fitting for me! When I applied I knew close to nothing about Fort Worth (or Texas for that matter!), but I trusted God had a plan for my summer, and I knew I would intern at Gladney if that is where He wanted me.  

My time at Gladney has been fantastic! I am amazed at how hands-on my experience has been, and I am so grateful for all that I have learned. I've gotten to sit in on meetings, learn about the home-study process, help prepare for the Colombia Service Trip, create profiles and write blog posts for waiting children, observe Domestic Orientation and Parent Adoptive Training, along with so much more. I want to say a huge thank you to my supervisor Lindsay who has been incredible! She taught me so much and allowed me to be involved in all that I could. Thank you Lindsay for answering my endless questions and being so willing to help! The number of people who made me feel welcome and helped me during my time here is extensive. Thank you to everyone who made my time at Gladney so memorable. It's been an honor to intern at an organization 'where hope is born'! 

International Intern 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Gladney Interns Summer 2015

As I mentioned in my previous post, the other interns at Gladney are so wonderful! The work they have done is amazing. We have all had wonderful experiences and learned so much! As the marketing intern, I thought it would be interesting to find out what exactly led them to Gladney and how their experiences have been so far. I asked them a few questions, and this is what I learned!

To the interns: You are the sweetest girls with the biggest hearts! I wish we would have been able to spend more time together, but what time I had with y’all was so special! Good luck with the rest of your time at Gladney, as you finish school, and as you move on into your careers! God bless!

1. What made you want to be an intern at Gladney?

Lindsey: As a requirement for my undergraduate degree in Human Development and Family Science at Oklahoma State, we are to do an internship within our field of study for a designated amount of time! I personally have no prior experience with the adoption field; however I more than likely will be led to adoption to complete my family in the future. I felt that adoption is such a significant field and learning more about the process and the populations of people who are involved would serve not only as an influential and educational internship experience for myself, but also open up my eyes to a world I will more than likely join and hopefully help make a difference in other’s lives as well.

JaNae: I have a love for adoption and knew I wanted my internship to be at an adoption agency. I was adopted myself and loved the idea of giving others hope of starting or expanding their family.

Tanna: I first heard about Gladney when my aunt and uncle adopted their son from China! Not only did I hear about their adoption experience with Gladney, but I also heard a lot about the Superkids program as my aunt is the pediatrician who participates in the Superkids trips to China! When I found out Gladney offered internships (including one in international adoption, which is my passion!) I knew I wanted to apply!

Haley: My brother was adopted through Gladney, so my family and I have had a lot of experience with this organization, and seeing how wonderful this place and its staff were throughout the years made me want to be an intern here.

Jordan: I am a Gladney baby, and I have always been interested in what goes on behind the scenes at an adoption agency! My parents had such a positive experience bringing my sister and I home from Gladney. My life is forever changed by the decision my birth mother so lovingly made and I wanted to make a difference in a child’s life, too

2. What has been the best learning experience so far?

Lindsey: My best learning experience so far at Gladney has been working directly with the birthmothers in the dorm and understanding the process and feelings that they are going through. There is no way to know how they are feeling, but witnessing this selfless act firsthand and getting the chance to talk to them and take this walk with them is extraordinary.

JaNae: I've had many positive experiences at Gladney that it is hard to name just one. I've been able to be a part of a few baby placements and see the reactions of the adoptive couple as they see their new baby for the first time. I've been able to do many home visits, I've gone as far as Austin, and get to know each of the couples and families that desire to adopt. I've also been able to go to the court house and see many finalizations. It's a beautiful thing to see a family stand there with their child and be declared their official parents.

Tanna: I have a hard time picking the best learning experience I’ve had in my first few weeks because I’m gaining new information each day! One thing that sticks out to me is the knowledge I have gained regarding the adoption process in general. Two of my brothers were adopted from Africa, and since it was a private adoption our family was not associated with an agency. My experience at Gladney has shown me what the adoption process looks like when you are working with an agency. I have also had the chance to learn about parenting adopted children and how to properly handle issues that are faced with adopted children. 

Haley: Shadowing Monique on a home study has been the best learning experience for me so far.  Just seeing the interview process from a different side and learning how to manage situations and observing everything going on was such a great experience.

Jordan: There have been so many! I think learning about the processes all members of the adoption triad go through has been most interesting to me.

3. What do you hope to get out of this experience?

Lindsey: I hope that after my time at Gladney has come to an end, I will have a greater sense of understanding for each party that is involved in adoption as well as everything Gladney does to help each of those groups of people. I hope to broaden my horizons into a field that I had no prior experience and take that new found education with me into my future.

JaNae: I hope to be able to learn as much as I can about adoption and how I can grow to help children and families in my future career.

Tanna: I hope to become more knowledgeable in the various areas of an adoption agency during this experience. I have loved being able to see so many different aspects of Gladney during my time here! I am interning in the international department, but I have been given multiple opportunities in other departments. My eyes have been opened to all that an adoption agency does!

Haley: I hope to gain invaluable experience (which I already have in the short time I’ve been here) that will help me in a future career and in life in general.

Jordan: From the beginning I wanted to gain general knowledge of this amazing organization and get my feet wet in the world of adoption. I have been exposed to many different situations and learned exactly what it looks like to be completely devoted and committed to helping birth mothers, adoptees, and adoptive parents have the best adoption experience possible.

4. What do you hope to contribute to Gladney while you are here?

Lindsey: I hope that while I am here at Gladney I will contribute my love for families and my love for helping others during my work especially in the dorm. I work very hard and try to learn as much as I can, so I hope that this effort shines through into everyone that I work with and I make a small difference in my time that I’ve spent.

JaNae: I hope to be able to contribute my experiences and knowledge with those I encounter. I also want to instill hope and happiness into the lives of those I work with.

Haley: I hope to be a big help to Gladney during my time here in any way I can.  I hope that the work I do as an intern here will contribute positively to this organization, even if it is in the smallest way.

Jordan: Since my experience here is almost over, I hope that I have encouraged others with my story and been able to complete work that needed to be done in order to best advocate for adoption.

5. What are your plans for the future?

Lindsey: After my summer at Gladney, I will move down to San Marcos, Texas where I will pursue my master’s degree in Family and Child Studies with a track for Child Life. I hope to work with children and families in the medical setting and help their lives flourish despite the hardship they are going through. Through therapy and advocacy I aspire to help those little kiddos who are not always able to help themselves and promote resilience within their families for a happy and future.

JaNae: My future plans after I graduate with my Masters would be to work with children who have trauma or attachment issues and/or to work in an adoption agency.

Tanna: To be honest I am not completely sure what my futures plans are! I will graduate in May, and I am considering going on to get my Masters in Social Work. I trust the plan the Lord has for me and will know what is next in His timing.

Haley: My plan for the future is to continue my education by attending TCU’s MSW program and then after, hopefully start a career in the field of social work (where exactly is to be determined).

Jordan: I will graduate in March with a degree in Family and Child Studies and a minor in Business Leadership! I plan to get my Master’s in Social Work, but I am not sure where. I am very interested in working in the adoption field, but I am also interested in Play Therapy and teaching preschool! I am trusting the Lord to guide me where He sees fit.

The Interns

P.S.- Shout out to Mary Ownbey and our supervisors for all of your help and for making this possible! If you want to ever volunteer or intern at Gladney, we think you definitely should! 

I am a Gladney Baby and a Gladney Intern!

Where do I begin?!

My summer as an intern at Gladney Center for Adoption is one that I have been looking forward to for a few years. I knew I wanted to be here and experience the behind the scenes of an organization that is so special to me. I have always been a part of the Gladney family! My birth mother made an adoption plan for me and chose the most loving, amazing parents I could have ever had. They push me to be my best and make it possible for me to fulfill my dreams. I am forever grateful that she chose life and adoption for me. The Lord has a purpose for me and I am glad that I am alive to be able to pursue it!

After choosing my major in college and forming more of an interest in helping professions, I knew I needed to spend time here. It has been such a blessing! I work with such kind, professional people who strive to make their workplace friendly and encouraging. They have hearts of gold and work unimaginably hard to find forever families for sweet little ones. I have even gotten the privilege to meet some people who were at Gladney at the time of my adoption! 

While I can’t imagine spending my summer anywhere else, these past few weeks have not gone without a huge amount of emotions I wasn’t expecting to have. From crying when I got to see the placement room for the first time, to meeting a few kiddos who are also Gladney babies, it has been very emotional. Luckily, I have had plenty of sweet coworkers to encourage me that this is normal, and that there are tissues everywhere for a reason! 

I have learned so much about my area of study, too. I have been able to apply what I have learned in my college classes about family systems, grief, and other topics that can be difficult. It has helped me to process my own feelings about my personal story, and I didn’t even realize that I needed to! 

Needless to say, this has been a summer of a lifetime. I have grown so much personally, and I feel like the precious groups of interns who are with me at Gladney would say the same!

Marketing Intern & Gladney Baby